Ten things to do by Linda Ashman

la-cropped-as500kb-300x294Many thanks to author Linda Ashman for permission to “borrow” this page from her website.  Linda is the author of more than thirty-five delightful picture books and the creator of The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books. Her books have been included on the “best of the year” lists of The New York Times, Parenting and Child magazines, the New York Public Library, Bank Street College of Education, and the International Reading Association. She leads writing workshops and gives presentations about writing and children’s books at conferences and schools.

Thanks for the great advice, Linda!

Ten things to do if you want to write picture books:

  1. Join SCBWI. And find out what’s happening with your local chapter.
  2. Read craft books. You might start with (ahem) The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books and Ann Paul’s Writing Picture Books.
  3. Read picture books—lots of them. You’ll find recommendations at our group blog, PictureBookBuilders, and many more in The Nuts and Bolts Guide.
  4. Read children’s poetry. Notice the sound, the rhythm, and the way a story can be told or a world created with very few well-chosen words.
  5. Write. Obvious, I know, but somehow it’s easy to let other things take precedence.
  6. Revise, revise, revise. Think you’re done? Revise some more.
  7. Make a dummy or storyboard. Nothing better demonstrates the unique structure of a picture book or shows more clearly if your text is working in this format.
  8. Think visually. Imagine your story as a movie, and leave out anything that doesn’t move the action forward.
  9. Cultivate patience—with your writing (don’t rush!) and with the publishing industry (nothing happens quickly).
  10. Hang in there. Rejection is part of the business. It’s good to have a supportive critique group and/or at least one sympathetic friend.

http://lindaashman.com/how-to-write-picture-books/more-resources/

The Way Back – Part 6 “Finale”

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I did it. It was scary at first, but I finally dove in.

 

Since last Friday I’ve been tossing weird “What if…” ideas around in my head. Nothing developed from them.

So, I cheated. Just a little.

On my laptop I keep EVERYTHING I write or try to write. I have a folder for each year. Inside those folders are sub-folders for manuscripts, publisher, shards (leftover scraps of phrases, sentences, paragraphs) and quotes, thoughts and ideas that I never developed. I also have a folder for poetry and children’s poetry – mostly containing incomplete works.

I usually start a writing session by warming up on poetry. I may try to create some new poem, or work on a poem that has been on my hard drive for years. Either way, working on poetry gets my writing muscles ready.

Like I said, I cheated. Just a little.

So, I scanned through my junk, thoughts, and ideas folders. I found a few things I had saved from years back. One was a brief conversation I had with my grandson about nine or ten years ago. (I know—I told you I keep everything!)

That little 50 words of conversation birthed the “new” idea I’ve been working on.

I tried framing that idea into poetry. The result is a trilogy of poems that I think have promise for some children’s magazine. I HOPE so! I’ll keep polishing them.

My second attempt was to recreate that conversation as a fiction story for a children’s magazine. That idea definitely needs a great deal of work. But I began that work in spite of my trepidation.

I dove in. I dog-paddled my way around the pool.

Since last Friday I’ve committed to a writing schedule that I think will work for me. I’m committed to one hour of “writing” each morning and one hour each evening.court-friends

It’s a start, right?

I have to admit the water feels great. Refreshing.

So, how did YOUR new idea work out last weekend?

This Is the Feast

feastThis Is the Feast

Written by Diane Z. Shore        Illustrated by Megan Lloyd

Published by Scholastic, Inc. in 2008

 

This Is the Feast is a rhyming picture book about the Pilgrims’ journey and settlement of the New World, then their feast of thanksgiving. The voice is quite similar to another Thanksgiving book ON MY SHELF, The Very First Thanksgiving Day (also published by Scholastic, Inc.)

I was pleasantly surprised that This Is the Feast makes repeated reference to the Pilgrims specifically thanking God for His blessings.

The artwork is bright and colorful like the season of fall. As a matter of fact it was too colorful in some ways. The Pilgrims are dressed in bright colors—orange, red, blue, purple, summer green. That isn’t historically correct, and it jerked me out of the story.

The rhythm is happy and bouncy and fits the illustrations well. However, it is the same rhythm as  The Very First Thanksgiving Day.

 

Thanksgiving Day at Our House

Thanksgiving Day at Our House: Thanksgiving Poems for the Very Young

Written by Nancy White Carlstrom           Illustrated by R. W. Alley

Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in 1999

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In Thanksgiving Day at Our House fifteen cute poems dance with colorful, adorable illustrations. Both the poems and the artwork capture the traditions and humor, the colors and confusion, the purpose and silliness of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The jingle-jangle of the short poems appeals to very young children. (ages 2-5, I think) The illustrations do, too. They capture the adorable and sometimes absurd behaviors of preschoolers. The book makes a point of including very young children in Thanksgiving celebrations—an idea I really like.

The poems pay tribute to family and friends. They also remind us of Thanksgiving history and traditions including school pageants and Thanksgiving Day feasts. Three poems are prayers; one for the feast, one for people in need, and finally, a good night prayer of gratitude.

Thanksgiving Day at Our House is a fun read-to book that celebrates both family and Thanksgiving Day.